A Day Out in Yorkshire

Today was Easter Monday, a bank holiday here in the UK, and Kevin and I decided we were going to Do Something today. We are forever telling ourselves that we will Go Somewhere, or See Something but don’t usually get round to it, but today was different and we enjoyed a fantastic trip out over the hill to Yorkshire.

The weather hasn’t been great for the past few days but – as the seasoned campers that we are always know – there’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong coat and shoes. So we prepared for a typical British bank holiday day out and packed butties, crisps, a flask of tea, some waterproofs, hiking boots, sun lotion and money for an ice-cream and set off up the M62.

We didn’t encounter any rain at all, but it was a bit cold even when the sun did break out. We were heading for Rievaulx Abbey and Terrace which is about 16 miles out of Thirsk, near a little town called Helmsley. Now then, Kevin and I have already encountered Helmsley and it brought back some rather mixed emotions and memories being there again today. It was the place on our Coast to Coast bike ride 8 years ago where we found our morale at rock bottom and where we simply couldn’t go on with our ride, until we had a cup of tea and some meat and potato pie (I swear there were magic herbs in that cup of tea) and it restored us to the extent we were able to carry on and finish the ride to Scarborough.

I’m glad to say that today’s visit was infinitely more comfortable and happy for us, and it was a lovely drive from there up to Rievaulx Terrace.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Our visit was very nearly spoiled by another family – why do parents these days seem to think that their little darlings have the right to shout and carry on disturbing the peace of others?? – but a muttered exclamation from me (sorry, I couldn’t help myself) and they soon realised that not everyone appreciates a 3 year old and a 6 year old “expressing themselves” at top volume in a peaceful garden. Isn’t it funny how the “look” I perfected with my own two children 20+ years ago works perfectly well on other people’s children now too?

Anyway. Rievaulx Terrace is a lovely place and well worth a visit. It is looked after by the National Trust and the staff there were very helpful and cheerfully welcoming.

We moved on from the terrace down to the abbey ruins at the bottom of the steep slope. You might not be able to see from the photos, but there is more or less a cliff edge separating the terrace from the abbey grounds. Too dangerous to walk down so we drove round instead.

Rievaulx Abbey was founded by Cistercian monks in the 12th Century, and over the next 400 years or so saw its fortunes rise, fall, rise and then completely fall again when Henry VIII got fed up with Rome. It is a beautiful place, and even though its many buildings are now in ruins, there is still a feeling of spirituality and peace there.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And so to the journey home. Back through Helmsley and off towards Thirsk.

On the way up, we had driven up Sutton Bank, a notoriously steep part of the A170 where the road climbs at a rate of 25%. Caravans are banned from that that stretch – up AND down! – and I have to admit that our little car did struggle a little bit going up. We thought we would stop on the way back to check out the view from the top, which we did. The sheer drop of Sutton Bank was formed with the retreat of the last ice age, and you can see the flat bottom of the valley that was formed between the bank and what is now Thirsk on the horizon. Further in the distance there is a line of (black) hills, where the mighty Whernside and Ingleborough were also formed by the forces on the earth by the advancing then retreating glacier.

The view was magnificent, and no photograph of mine could ever do it justice, but here’s a couple of pictures I took from the top of Sutton Bank.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

You will notice that the sky was changeable to say the least. It’s one of the things I love about Yorkshire in general, the fact that the skies are so big and wide, and so changeable all the time. Beautiful and a fantastic reminder just how small we all are.

So, that was our day. A lovely day out in Yorkshire with a bit of history and geography thrown in for good measure. Well worth a visit and I would love to go back again. And again, to be honest. It’s a lovely place and it’s no wonder people refer to Yorkshire as “God’s own county”.





The Outsiders

Daily Prompt: The Outsiders

by michelle w. on January 9, 2014

Tel us about the experience of being outside, looking in — however you’d like to interpret that.

The night was a cool Autumn evening. September 2012 to be precise.

I had been appointed as the new conductor at Todmorden Community Band and I was due to take up my post in a week’s time but to get a feel for the band and the people there I decided to a week early while the leaving conductor was still there.

lancs yorks borderMy husband and my son were with me for moral support, but I still felt like I was an outsider. For one I am not a local – I am from Manchester (about 25 miles away and in Lancashire….Todmorden is in Yorkshire), and another I didn’t know anyone in the band. Usually, when people move between bands it is because of a request from someone they know, or because they have gone along to “help out” previously but this was different. I was appointed because I knew someone who knew someone who knew I wasn’t playing at the time and who had seen me conduct another band, so this was a brand new endeavour with brand new people.

We pulled up outside the bandroom (once we’d found it with the help of a lad who happened to be walking down the street carrying a cornet case and we’d picked him up – yes, Todmorden is that safe even a stranger can offer a lift and it isn’t questioned!) and it was with a great deal of trepidation I approached the door.

Now, I have been in bands pretty much all my life and I must have been in more rehearsal venues than I can count both as a player and as a dep, so this shouldn’t have been so daunting. But blimey I was nervous!

I could hear sounds of warming up and some percussion being bashed about, and there was someone stood on the top step smoking a pipe. He had a long white beard and looked not unlike Gandalf’s younger brother. I was very relieved to realise that I recognised him as David, a teacher I knew and played with in the music centre brass band back in the 1980’s. Phew!

We went in through the door and it was a bit like when the stranger walks into the saloon in the wild west. Everything stopped…and everyone looked…. gulp.

And then there was an explosion of smiles and greetings and welcomes and hellos, which was wonderful.

I can honestly say that I was an “outsider” for all of about 5 seconds, but ever since I have felt one of the family at Todmorden Band. They are a great bunch of people and they have welcomed me and my family into their collective bosom with open arms.

I’m so glad I didn’t let the feeling of being an outsider stop me from going through that bandroom door on that first day because we have had a great time and had some great laughs along the way (usually at my ineptitude with the stick or my wandering left eye) and we are looking forward to a very exciting 2014. We have got some fascinating engagements lined up, including playing when the Tour de France has its Grande Depart on 5th July and a special anniversary parade with the Lancashire Fusiliers later on.

We re-start rehearsals tomorrow night after our Christmas break and I can’t wait!!


Wednesday Hodgepodge

Wednesday Hodgepodge

Welcome to October and another week in the Wednesday Hodgepodge. Everyone is welcome to play along-just answer the questions on your own blog, then hop over to Joyce by clicking the button below to add your link to the party. Here are my answers to this week’s questions.

1. What’s one thing you learned in September?

I learned that it’s ok to be me.

That might sound a bit deep, but honestly, it’s true. It has taken me just over 42 years to do it but it dawned on me recently that you know what, it’s ok just to be me. I don’t have to be or do anything other than be “me” to be acceptable. And that’s a nice feeling.

2. Acorn squash, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, yellow squash, zucchini squash, or blech! hold the squash!…what’s your favourite squash?  Your favourite way to prepare your favourite squash?

I love courgettes (the English name for zucchini) and marrow but I have also grown to be quite partial to butternut squash too. Especially when it is cooked with carrots and onions and blitzed up with some spices to be a tasty soup in the Autumn.

3. The older I get the ______________________________.

….less I worry about trying to impress people. There’s nothing I can do about people’s opinion of me so as long as I am true to myself (as well as my self) then I can’t do any more.

4. What’s your favourite television theme song ever?

Oh wow there’s so many to choose from so I will give you my top 5, which can be called “favourite” depending on my mood: Magnum PI, The Professionals, Some Mother’s Do ‘Ave ‘Em, Cagney and Lacey, and Hawaii 5-0.

5. What do you wish you’d spent more time doing five years ago?

Saving!! I was still working back then and we thought that we were struggling financially. Until I lost my job, was refused any state help and the credit crunch turned into a full blown recession. Now I realise that we were pretty comfortable and we should have saved some of our cash each month.

6. What item do you most need (or want) to add to your wardrobe this fall?

I need a coat. I’m not bothered what colour or style or length or anything, but I do need a coat. I’ve managed the last couple of winters without my own (I have borrowed one) but I do need something warm and waterproof that is suitable for conducting the band in. It’s amazing how cold one gets when one is wafting one’s arms about in the middle of a Yorkshire winter when the band is playing carols outdoors!

7. On October 2, 1950 the Peanuts cartoon was introduced to the world.  What was your favourite cartoon when you were a kid?

I have always been a big fan of Tom and Jerry. Love them. My favourites were the musical ones like the one where Jerry is trying to play the Hungarian Rhapsody on the piano and Jerry is messing about inside the casework with the hammers and all that. I also love Spike…. “Dats ma booooy”.

tom and jerry2

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

I have waited for over 2 years to get a follow up appointment with my consultant after some tests I had done on my offal, and that appointment was today. I had a phone call last week to confirm that I would be attending at 4pm today and I duly arrived at 3.40pm. Only to be told my appointment was at 4.30pm, not 4 o’clock as previously advised. I sat with my Dad in the waiting room watching the clock go round. And round. And round. At about 5.15pm one of the nurses came over and told us that the clinic was running about 2 and a half hours behind schedule. I eventually went in – not to see my consultant as I was expecting, but a senior nurse instead – at 6.25pm.

Thanks Dave. I’m really glad to see that you are fixing the NHS.


Catching Up!

Catching Up!

It has been a very busy couple of days recently, and I’m really sorry to have been largely absent from Blogland and being in contact with my lovely Bliblings (blog-siblings in case you didn’t know!).

Here’s what’s been going on:

Todmorden Band

Some of you might remember that I took up the post of conductor at Todmorden Band last Friday. I have had two rehearsals now and it has been brilliant both nights, which I’m really pleased about.

The band has been going for about 12 years now, after being revived from the ashes of a 100 year old band that sadly lost its way and crumbled before new life was breathed into it. The old band was – ironically enough – called Todmorden Old Band, and this new one is called Todmorden Community Band. The band is a brass band, and it conforms to the proscribed makeup of an English brass band, ie it has 10 Cornets (one of which is a soprano cornet, pitched in Eb), a Flugel Horn, three Tenor Horns (pitched in Eb also), two Baritone Horns, two Euphoniums, three Trombones (one of which is a bass trombone and reads bass clef in concert pitch), two Eb Basses (the orchestral equivalent is a Tuba), two Bb Basses and a percussion section.

The brass band repertoire falls broadly into two categories – the “traditional” side of things, and modern arrangements of modern pieces. The traditional side is a mixture of marches, overtures, songs from the shows, solos etc and the modern side is pieces that have been written especially for brass bands or arrangements of pop songs and modern musicals etc. Like I say, that is a very broad categorisation, but that’s the way we work I guess. The “old” band was a big contesting band and they have competed at the highest levels for many years. The “new” band exists purely for the enjoyment of the players, and for its concert audiences in the town.

I have been given a specific brief with this band, and that is to take them from September until Christmas to give their resident conductor a break, and to allow him to have a rest away from the rigours of choosing music and crafting it to performance standard for a couple of months. He was the primary mover when it came to rebuilding the band 12 years ago, and by his own admission, he’s a bit jaded and wants the band to experience some “new blood” for a while to reinject them with a bit of oomph. I’m really glad to help out because the resident conductor, David White, is a music teacher who I knew from music centre banding when I was a kid and it’s nice to be able to payback those lessons he gave me all that time ago.

My first task was to sort out what music to keep in the pads and what to introduce as new stuff for some upcoming concerts. We are hosting a French exchange band in a couple of weeks, so that is my first priority. After that we have got Remembrance Sunday (show me a brass band that doesn’t!!!) and I want to play some traditionally British music without resorting the old tried and tested “favourites”, which to be quite frank, are tedious and boring for the band to play. I’m sure that each audience that listens to a “Last Night of the Proms” concert really enjoys it, but there’s only so many times we can play Land of Hope and Glory before our collective eyes glaze over and the trombones decide to go one a rampage. After that we will be looking ahead to Christmas….which I absolutely refuse to tackle until at least Halloween!! I’m looking at a couple of arrangements I can do for the band, and I’ve got a couple that I have already done that I’d like the band to try in a week or so. The first one I’m going to try is an arrangement of themes from Pirates of the Caribbean. Or maybe The Rhythm of Life…hmm…decision time!

There is a nice age range within the band and it is a mixed ability group of musicians, which makes rehearsals really interesting. There are some people who are in their 70s who are seeing out their last days of music making, but who have a massive wealth of experience between them, and there are young teenagers who are just at the start of their musical journeys meeting them along the way. There are some people who are there for the social aspect of the music making, and there are those who are there to learn a new skill as mature adults. The common thing between everyone is the thread of humour in each rehearsal, for which I’m really grateful! Knitting together all those people could be a nightmare if it weren’t for the humour and the love of music we share.

Todmorden itself is a small town on the border between Lancashire and Yorkshire, between Rochdale and Halifax. It is about 45 minutes drive away from my home, so Friday nights are taken up with driving and banding, which I am liking!! Kevin and Ethan are joining me on a Friday night – Kevin plays cornet and he’s sitting on the front row (the melody line, and boy can he blow!) and Ethan is sitting on 2nd Trombone and learning lots FAST.

So, Friday night is definitely music night, but unfortunately I’ve underestimated the time commitment this week and didn’t manage a proper blog post, which I usually do in the evenings. Next week I’ll plan ahead and do my post during the day. I promise….

Crochet Projects

I created a mascot hat on Friday….if you’re a Manchester City fan you’ll recognise it straight away as being based on Moonchester! I’m so proud of this little hat – I worked out the stitches, the design, the measurements, the fixings etc all by my little self and when I showed it to my nephew Will this morning his face told me all I need to know about it being a success. Hurrah!!!

The real Moonchester

In the realms of fairness, I suppose I’d better design a Fred the Red hat now too for the Manchester United fans out there….I suppose… I have to?? Really? Oh ok then…..*snarl*…..!

I’m hoping to sell some of these little blighters, so keep an eye out on Etsy.

Authorised Lay Minister

This is something that I posted about earlier this week, when I posted a guest post by my Mum as she was looking at her licensing to be an Authorised Lay Minister for our church.

It was the licensing ceremony yesterday in Manchester Cathedral, and it was a momentous occasion. The whole cathedral was filled with supporters for the 56 people who were being commissioned alongside my Mum in churches across the Manchester Diocese.  The 57 candidates have undertaken a year’s training in various aspects of ministry. My Mum’s speciality is Pastoral Care which brings her into contact with people who need that extra bit of support from the church, whether it is through illness, bereavement, crisis of faith or family difficulties. My Mum is going to be heading up a team of people who will be visiting the sick and housebound in the parish and we will be sharing communion with them in their homes. There are exciting times ahead!

We celebrated my Mum’s licensing with a party at the vicarage last night….and it was BRILLIANT. Kevin and I laid on a buffet for about 25 people who came back for drinks and nibbles, which took quite a bit of shopping and logistical manoeuvring yesterday morning.  The wine flowed almost as much as the laughter and the chatter, which was a great way to celebrate our fellowship. I love my church family.


In amongst the banding and the shopping and the visit to the Cathedral yesterday, I also had to find time to write the intercessions for this morning’s service. We have a rota for leading prayers and reading the lessons in church, and it was my turn to lead the prayers today. I knew about it a couple of weeks ago, but I always leave things to the last minute (one of my major faults!). I try to kid myself that it’s because I like prayers to be fresh and current….but the reality is that I’m just a major procrastinator and I put things off until it’s almost too late. I suppose if they offered a qualification in procrastination I’d put off applying for it until after the closing date….tsk….Pamster!

I prayed for the usual things – the work of the church, the support of its leaders, the sick and the bereaved etc – but I also included a prayer for the two police officers who were shot and killed this week in Manchester. I also prayed for the community leaders and the officers who were in charge of rebuilding that broken community in Hattersley, which is an area that is no stranger to violence sadly.

I also gave thanks for the life of one our brothers in Christ, Guy, who died last week. Guy was 89 years old and has been a member of our church for the past 12 years. He had had a colourful life, being born in India in the days of the Raj and travelling the world ever since, but was suffering the early stages of dementia when he joined us so we only knew him in his declining years. However, his humour and his spirit was as intact as it ever was and his smile was totally infectious. He took delight in seeing other people smile and even though his dementia was a major issue at the end, he continued to make us smile and enjoy his company right to the end. A typical “Guy” thing to do was when everyone sat down at the end of a hymn, he would purposely stand up again and say “NO!!!!” loudly when his wife Val tried to sit him down. He would then look round at everyone and with a smile and a wink, would sit down in his own sweet time.

We learned at his funeral more about his engineering skills, and his mechanical intelligence when it came to inventing gadgets and devices. He was a gifted woodworker and there are literally hundreds of pieces of his work all over the world. A lovely man, and a sad loss to us.


In amidst all of that going on in the last few days I’ve not been very well. I have been feeling “that” pain build up in my chest/stomach again and today I have seen traces of blood in my water which is a usual indication that my kidneys are not working at their best. I’ve taken it easy this afternoon and have rested up so hopefully I have contained it before an episode gets fully established. Fingers crossed eh?!

So….as you can see, it’s been a bit of a hectic few days recently. I hope you forgive me dear reader for abandoning you this weekend! Normal service will be resumed shortly, I promise.


Daybook Entry – Summing Up The Past Week

I thought I would combine two posts today and do a daybook entry that reflected the week away I had with my family last week. I tried to blog something each day whilst I was away but because I was camping on the top of the moors and only had a mobile phone for internet connection I couldn’t really post too much about what I was doing. So here you are – a summing up of the week and a daybook entry all rolled into one. Buy one get one free lol!!




Outside my window…I am looking into my garden which is festooned with camping equipment. Unfortunately we have just had a stormy cloudburst and what was nearly dry is now more soaking wet than it was when we hung it up this morning. Oops.

I am thinking…what a wonderful time we had last week.

I am thankful…for my family. For everything.

In the kitchen…half a ton of laundry in various stages of washed, drying, waiting to be washed and waiting to be folded.

I am wearing…new socks!!

I am creating…this is a difficult one this time. I am stuck with Ethan’s blanket still (I’ve blogged about that before so I won’t bore you again) but on a bigger scale I want to be creating something that will earn me money. I keep revisiting this idea from time to time but things are getting to the desperate stage and I absolutely NEED to create something soon or else I will go off my nut with the feeling of uselessness I’ve got at the minute.

I am going…I don’t have any plans to go anywhere for a day or two. My next planned outing is going to be the study group at the vicarage on Tuesday night.

I am wondering…whether I can take migraleve now, or should I wait a bit more? The thing is, I took 60mg of codeine two hours ago for the pains in my offal, but I’m developing a migraine now as well and I’m not sure whether migraleve has codeine in it or not. I don’t want to chance it so I think I’ll leave it for now and hope that the migraine doesn’t spin off within the next two hours.

I am reading… “The Crow Trap” by Ann Cleeves. I’ve not got very far into it yet and the characters are just about being introduced. It’s the first in a series (I’ve already read the fourth, doh!) and it’s by an author I’ve read before so I am looking forward to getting on with this one.

I am hoping…my offal pain is a passing thing…please God don’t let me be laid up with it after having such a great time last week!

I am looking forward to…going to bed tonight. Sounds mard, but there you go, I am a bit mard today.

I am learning…patience!! I am frustrated with my health condition and the fact that it is stopping me doing so much, and that I can’t get involved with certain projects to the extent that I want to. I am learning to be patient and relax, and to wait for things to develop in their own sweet time. But it’s a hard lesson to learn.

Around the house…the post-camping detritus that always happens after a soggy week away.

I am pondering…Kevin and I are looking for a replacement caravan. We have come into a little money recently and rather than do the sensible thing and put it aside to pay for bills later on, we want to spend a little of it on a new caravan. Not new new, but new to us new. We know what we want, and how big we can go (not very on account of the limited space on the driveway) and how much we want to spend (with the emphasis on WANT lol) but finding a suitable van that meets all those criteria is proving a bit tricky. There’s nothing too badly wrong with our current van – so long as you don’t mind the leaks, the draughts, the limited seating space, the difficult setting up of beds at night, the limited storage space… get the idea!

A favourite quote for today…

One of my favourite things…is being away on my holidays

A few plans for the rest of the week: nothing planned really. It’s going to be one of those “see what happens” weeks.

A peek into my week…

Day 1 evening walk. I love the different shades of green lit up by the setting sun. This is Ethan and my Mum inspecting the buds on the pine trees.


Day 1 evening stroll. More of the setting sun on the forest and the sheep


Day 1 evening stroll. The sun peeking out between the trees of the forest on the edges of the campsite.


Day 1 – evening stroll in the woods. The Team being daft…


Being dafter!!!


Day 2 – Day out in Scarborough. This photo was taken at exactly the same spot as our “finishing photo” when we cycled coast to coast a couple of years ago. Dad and Kevin had gone to park the cars so the team is looking a bit depleted here.


Day 2 – waiting for a trip on the pirate ship (just docking behind Ethan). It was a lovely ride…so long as you like the rough sea on a windy day!


Day 3 – relaxing in the sunshine. Dad’s untangling a kite string (for the millionth time…) and Ethan’s reading from my Kindle. He was reading “Pinocchio” to us. (Don’t look at the storm clouds in the distance….)


Our caravans at the bottom of the field. It was lovely and quiet by the end of Tuesday when everyone else had gone home!


Bella resting in the shade.


Mum and Ethan flying the kite


Our caravan didn’t escape the Jubilee flags! I couldn’t take a proper picture of the inside of the awning but that was just as decorated too. As was the front of the van with a huge St George’s flag. Ahhhh proud to be English!


Day 4 – we found the most beautiful village in England. Aldborough in Yorkshire. Not a blade of grass out of place, not a speck of litter or graffiti, not a wheelie bin in sight…Absolutely stunning place.


Mum and Dad walking with Bella in Aldborough. Day 4.


Day 4. The windfarm on the farm next to the campsite. You can actually see the weather front coming in!


Day 4 – the storm has hit. Judging by the news reports in the last few days we were lucky with the weather. We had considered going to Aberystwth or Caernarfon in Wales but because Bella isn’t too well we didn’t want to go that far from home. If we did we would still be there and trapped by the floods. Makes you think doesn’t it!


Day 5 – Fountains Abbey. Beautiful place, well worth a visit, especially if you go on one of the guided tours (see next photograph…)


Yup – we went on the “Monks Tour” which involved us dressing up as monks and following our guide round the Abbey. Looking rather more like Jedi knights on this picture, but I assure you, they were definitely meant to be monks!
And yes, yours truly was dressed up as well! Doing my best Yoda Tuck impression…..


Bella captivated by something in a fireplace at the Abbey.



Ethan, my son. Looking like a paparazzo at age 13!



So there you have it. Some of my snapshots from our week away in the caravan last week. We had an absolute ball last week, it was so relaxing and so much fun I’d go back again next week if I could! We did have our problems (like Mum running out of some of her medication and Dad having to come back home for it on Wednesday, and Dad’s car having engine problems on the journey there, and of course the weather was a bit of an issue by the end of the week because we had no dry shoes and coats) but problems aside, it was a GREAT time!



Come and join us at and join in!



Camping Day 5


We visited Fountains Abbey today. Surprisingly, after all the rain yesterday and last night, we managed to stay dry today. We joined the Monks Tour at the abbey and did it in costume…. Photos to follow when I get home and can ” check them for quality” *ahem*… We’re having our last night supper now of chicken, salad, wine, laughter, radio two, reflection, jokes, planning and teasing. Home tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing Emma again and to my own shower, but sad to leave here. We love Yorkshire and will definitely be back. Soon. Thank you all for your comments this week. I’m v sorry I’ve not been able to answer many of you but being this high up on the moors and out of range the signal has meant difficulty in loading the internet with any continuity! I’ll be catching up with you all when I’m home tomorrow. Thank you for joining in with me this week.